SARAH Inc.'s Summer Memories
With the leaves changing and the crisp air lingering in the mornings, summer has officially come to a close. SARAH Inc. is excited to take the next steps into the fun fall season, but first we want to take a moment to reflect on all of our summer memories. Throughout all of our programs we have seen changes, improvements, and growth. Some of our summer highlights include:
- The KIDSTEPS program helping a record number of families
- The Employment Services program helping individuals secure competitive jobs at Amazon, Big Y, Subway, and more
- And thanks to the Enrichment Services staff, the individuals in our Day Programs experienced new places and created new memories that will last a lifetime
We want to use this opportunity to thank all of our staff, community partners, Board of Directors, Grantors, families, friends, and everyone else that has made this one of the best summers yet here at SARAH Inc. Check out the video below to see some of our favorite memories! If you have any photos or stories you want to share with us then please reach out to us at email@example.com, we would love to see them!
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A Word From The Executive Director
SARAH Inc. has a long history of advocacy, starting with the SARAH founding families over 60 years ago. At that time there were few, if any, services for children with disabilities, leading this group of parents to work together to create life expanding resources and “to be the voice of those who could not speak for themselves.” SARAH Inc. has continued this commitment to advocacy throughout the decades and into the present day. Much has changed over the years, not the least of which is that people with disabilities have found their voice and they are using it to tell their stories, fight for equity, and educate communities. The strength of this voice is powerfully portrayed in the film, The R-Word.
On Sunday, October 6th SARAH Inc. is proud to present a screening of The R-Word at the Kate in Old Saybrook, and I want to personally invite you to the showing. This event is open to the public and we welcome anyone who would like to see this impactful film about how words matter, and what we can do together to end the use of stigmatizing and painful language.
The R-Word is a purposeful look into the long-reaching history and lasting implications of the word retard(ed) and current attitudes and perceptions about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the personal narrative of four sibling stories and the first-person accounts of self-advocates, we get an intimate and nuanced perspective of the challenges and triumphs of people living with an intellectual disability. The R-Word is an unflinching, heartwarming, humorous, and hopeful journey through our shared human experience.
Robin Sharma, a Canadian Writer, once said that “Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.” The R-Word uses their message to further inspire a systematic change in society. It is up to all of us as a community to use our voice to make a difference.
- When: October 6th, 3pm (film runtime 65 minutes)
- Where: The Katharine Hepburn Theater, Old Saybrook
- Why: To raise awareness around the negative impacts of the everyday use of the R-word in society
The summer of 2019 held many trips and experiences for the individuals in our Enrichment Services program. We have toured the Mystic Seaport Museum, went berry and fruit picking at several orchards, we explored state parks, and enjoyed picnics out in the warm weather. Most recently, the SARAH In Action North Haven program sent groups to the Beardsley Zoo! Several of the individuals who attended these trips said it was one of the best things they have done all summer. Valencia told us “I like seeing the animals and enjoyed going to the zoo”.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is a unique experience filled with diverse animal exhibits, plantings, and programs that demonstrates the beauty of wildlife and out planet. The staff at the zoo was extremely knowledgeable and answered all of our questions throughout the day. Their wildlife selection ranged from everyday animals to more exotic creatures. Andy who thoroughly enjoys photography was excited for the opportunity to get photos of animals he has never seen before. He talked about how “(he) really liked the Spider Monkeys and (he) had a lot of fun” and asked if we could make it out there again. The groups who participated decided that the monkeys, lions, and prairie dogs were among the coolest animals overall.
All day outings to the zoo and other great locations is just one example of how we at SARAH Inc. aim to enrich lives. If you would like to help us further our mission so we can continue to provide these high quality experiences and services then check out our donation page. You can help us make a difference.
SARAH Inc. Employment Services has had a busy and productive summer, and our SARAH Inc. Transitional Services is growing by the day and now offers two Internship Programs. These Programs are located out of Solstice Senior Living in Guilford and Arden House Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hamden. They allow individuals to “get their feet wet” in a setting that truly duplicates the expectations and pace of an employer.
At the end of the internship the individuals have the opportunity to apply for, and receive, employment by that business. It’s a win win for everyone involved and provides great vocational experience for the individuals who are part of the program. Nothing gets us more excited than when one of our individuals finally secures employment in the community. We had much to celebrate this summer as THREE of our individuals in Individualized Employment program applied and received competitive jobs. Congratulations to Joe who is the newest employee at AMAZON Fulfillment Center in Wallingford, Anthony whose work ethic got him hired at Subway, and Chris who joined the team at Aleia’s Gluten Free Foods in Branford. We wish you all much success at your new jobs.
Recently a few of the KIDSTEPS staff participated in a unique opportunity to advance their professional knowledge base in the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). ESDM is an evidence-based practice for young children, ages 12-48 months, with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD. It integrates play-based, focused intervention into a child’s daily routines which has been shown by research to show growth. Although all developmental areas are addressed in this model, there is a special focus on the social-emotional, cognitive and language skills, those areas of development most impacted by Autism.
This specialized training took place on September 24, 25, and 26. Dr. Jennifer Epstein, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified ESDM trainer, who was trained by Dr. Sally Rogers (co-author of ESDM), provided live supervision for the KIDSTEPS staff during home visits with a volunteer KIDSTEPS family. This is Dr. Epstein’s first training within a family’s home rather than a training or community site. The training consisted of a balance of assessment training, writing intervention programs and designing data collection methods. Our staff learned quite a bit from this training and we are always looking for ways to continually improve the services we can offer to families.
KIDSTEPS is on the move! The KIDSTEPS program is now located at 556 Washington Avenue in North Haven. This location gives us an opportunity to work closer with other departments and we are excited for the next page in our story. During the move some of the individuals in our Transitional Services program offered to lend a hand and help us in this process. We are thankful for everyone’s help and patience through this move. Take a look at the photos below!
A Word from SARAH Inc.'s Board of Directors
As a non-profit in Connecticut, SARAH Inc. has a Board of Directors whose job it is to help continually establish the mission, value, and vision, as well as ensure overall strategic success in our company. These individuals align themselves to our goals and aim to increase our prosperity so we can always provide high quality services to individuals with differing abilities and their families. In the past five years Linda Vigorito was leading our Board as President. She has been a part of several initiatives and has helped SARAH Inc. reach new levels of success. However, this October her term as President is coming to a close. Starting next month Dan Brill will be taking over as the SARAH Inc. Board President. We have asked both Linda and Dan if they could comment about themselves and the upcoming change in their Board status.
“During my 5 years as Board Chair I have seen tremendous changes in the IDD community as well as within SARAH Inc. With the help of fellow board members, we hired Denise Henry as the new Executive Director, moved our headquarters from rented space to our company owned Westbrook building and expanded all our programs with a renewed focus on client satisfaction. I am proud to be associated with SARAH Inc. and excited to have Dan Brill take over as President.”
“I served as Vice President for three years before I moved into the President’s role this fall. I am delighted to be a member of a group of talented individuals across SARAH Inc. who have done such a wonderful job of enhancing the skills and enriching the lives of so many people with intellectual and other disabilities throughout Windham, New London, Middlesex and New Haven counties. During the next few years, we hope to form strategic alliances with other highly skilled agencies to expand our service offerings and grow the number of cities we serve in order to help more people in our communities prosper. I greatly appreciated Linda Vigorito’s leadership in developing SARAH Inc. into the high performance, mission driven community it is today. Due to her efforts, we have the organization, leadership, and talent necessary to continue our successful journey.”
The last exciting update we have from the SARAH Inc. Board of Directors is the addition of a new member, Colin Dugan. Linda Vigorito contacted the founder of Principle Wealth Partners, Bob Paolucci, about an opening on the board. Bob knew that Colin would be a perfect fit for the organization and Colin jumped at the opportunity. Because Colin is a lifetime shoreline CT resident he has always been aware of the tremendous work SARAH does for the shoreline and the CT community as a whole and the positive impact our organization has on the lives of so many families.
Colin is a Wealth Advisor for Principle Wealth Partners located in Madison. His job focuses on handling the financial affairs for a number of families and individuals located predominantly in the Connecticut area. In this field he is responsible for creating and monitoring financial plans, managing investment portfolios, and working with our clients and their other trusted professionals to ensure the execution of their personal matters. This skillset will allow Colin to help improve SARAH Inc. as a whole. He plans on working directly with the company’s financial division on a project basis to further our mission.
More Happenings at SARAH Inc.
Have you met Meghan?! Starting early this summer, Meghan joined the SARAH Inc. family as the new Quality Assurance Manager for Adult Services. She has a degree in psychology from Quinnipiac University. Her professional experience includes working as a Direct Support Professional, as well as, a case manager, program manager, and program director. This experience allows her a unique perspective as a Quality Assurance Manager.
Coming into this new role at SARAH she has the knowledge to understand that our work can be unpredictable and fast-paced. All of us in the non-profit sector know what it is like to wear different hats and understand that every day could look a little different. In her role she can provide some stability and she serves as a checks and balances system that will help keep us on the track to success. With Meghan’s assistance, SARAH Inc. can provide the highest level of quality services to those in our programs.
Meghan has stated: “While I am still learning about the ins and outs of the agency and its Adult Services programs, I have already taken steps to begin improving our new hire training curriculum and the quality and accuracy of our documentation. I am very excited to begin a new project soon that will work to improve the quality of the services we provide with a very specific focus on analyzing the processes we use to support the individuals we serve to reach their goals and working with the SARAH team to improve those processes.” This level of dedication and hard-work is what we like to see in all of our employees and we are excited to welcome her to the SARAH Inc. team.
We Want to Hear from You
There is always something going on at SARAH Inc. and we want to make sure we share it all. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or if you want to join our mailing lists.